Music, Music, Muzak...

I have a love/hate relationship with Christmas music.

Performed live, whether by accomplished musicians, by rank amateurs (in moderation, unless the performers are my own children, of which I have none), or in participatory settings, I love it.

Recorded, piped into shopping centers starting as early as October, I hate it.

This is true even when we're talking about the exact same song; even the exact same arrangement of the exact same song. This is true even if the recorded version is of superior aesthetic quality to the live version. You might catch me subconsciously humming along to a not-too-evil version of a classic tune while wandering the grocery store, but ultimately I'm turned off by the very ubiquity of the seasonal music in the wider environment. I consider it a noxious form of noise pollution that poisons and cheapens even the good stuff by overexposure and by interspersing it indiscriminately with dreck.

This is why you won't see me shopping from now until Christmas without my handy-dandy mp3 player to protect me from sonic intrusion (thanks, Mike!), and yet I'll spend time and even real money (of which I have none) to go listen to and/or sing pretty much the same songs in a live venue.

The prime opportunity costs of my love for the AAR/SBL annual meeting over the past five years have been missing the Wake County Library Sale and the Duke Chapel Messiah Sing-Along, as all of these events are always the weekend before Thanksgiving. Apparently, Duke canceled the Sing-Along this year, but the Chapel Hill community sing of the Messiah is tonight. I think I'll go to that rather than the Duke Chapel Choir's sit-and-listen-to-the-real-musicians version, which is also this weekend. Only trouble is that I don't remember there being a lot of parking at the Wesley Foundation -- I'd better try to get there earlyish.

This year is also the first time in, like, EVER that I won't be "home" for the Christmas Eve service at the church where I grew up. We do a reflective service, with a lot of scripture reading (that was my part), traditional carols, and Michael Card music. I guess I'll have to settle for the next best thing, the Michael Card Christmas Concert at Durham First Baptist next weekend. (I'm not being glib about it being the next best thing; I really think my Mom performs many of Card's compositions better than he does. She, however, might well prefer attending the concert, since it would be less work for her.)

And that's not even getting into the myriad of musical activities going on at my own church. Methinks I'll have plenty of chances for the good stuff this season without having to listen to even one mall PA system.


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